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Al... Great work on the stills in capturing familiar locations in the park. I think two things that amaze me the most. First, how the landscape of the park has evolved. It would be interesting to see these same shots from above with today's Disneyland. Being an avid gardener, I find it fascinating to note how the foliage has grown to become so much more a part of the character of the park than it was back in the early days, particularly in the area of the castle and, most especially, the jungle cruise. I couldn't imagine a gorgeous spring morning people-watching in the plaza without the pink blooming tabebuia trees winding overhead. The park of the 1950's still looked very incomplete without the mature vegetation that it now enjoys, particularly all the old, stately trees. God, how I miss the park...
Secondly, I find it very interesting from an evolutionary point of view to note how many open areas were present back during the opening. Walt and his imagineers must have been excited and hopeful to still have so much space to try out new things and make the park more fun for all the guests. One thing I always dreamt of doing was to have been around when some of the more established attractions were just being opened, like Haunted Mansion for example. From what my mother tells me, there was just so much excitement in the air when Walt was opening a new attraction. Others may feel differently, but the last time I sensed anything like that was when Star Tours opened and once again when Indiana Jones opened. I don't recall anything having been done since then that has really created the buzz and excitement of a new attraction opening, but perhaps that was there when Toy Story Midway Mania opened recently. The one thing that did create a lot of buzz that I felt all the way back here in Tennessee was the re-opening of the submarines. I can't even express how badly DL needed to do that. It's such a fun, original ride, and it adds so much color and kinetic interest to that section of the park, very evident in photos from folks I see on here, particularly from Darkbeer. I do hope they get the bugs worked out of the new monorails too. Those are so iconic of DL and WDW, and those new trains look absolutely gorgeous and add a lot in the way of updated visuals to the park. ::stepping down off soapbox::
Great idea for this column Al... Keep up the great work...
Although the Walt Disney Treasures - Disneyland: Secrets, Stories and Magic DVD (that includes Disneyland, U.S.A.) is for all intents and purposes out of print, sometimes Amazon gets a few back in stock. A link is provided below should you want to check.
Also, you can rent it at blockbuster.com; I just did...
Nice article!! It's so cool to see how much the park has evolved. I love seeing the older attractions like the Indian Village. I have a photo of myself at age 2 in front of a teepee. Of course I don't remember being there, but it's so neat to be reminded of that time through incredible flash back articles like this.
Happy Birthday Disneyland!
It makes me think. Many parts of the park looked so empty and plain back then. I wonder if fans of the park in the 70's and 80's got as upset as we fanboys do about recent changes/upgrades. Do you think that 20 or 30 years from now, people will think, "Wow, Pirates of the Caribbean didn't have Johnny Depp when it first opened!?! That would've been so boring."
That's just what the article brought to my mind. Sometimes we've got to remember that when the boys in Burbank and the Imagineers make changes we may not agree with, people in the future might enjoy the park even more because of those changes. It's not all about us.
Absolutely unbelievable how much different the park looked, and just as unbelievable how identical all the structures are to today. It's the trees and vegetation that have drastically altered the look of Disneyland. It looked so open and like a "normal" everyday theme park. But if you take a close look at the rest of the park, hardly anything has changed as far as the buildings go.
I remember when Legoland first opened, I thought it was a joke how small and barren that place was. But now it's grown and expanded and it's almost nothing like it was 8 years ago when I went. It's the same thing with my university when I was there a decade ago, it was opened in 1989 and still growing. All the great things we enjoy today seem to always have a small and humble beginning. Nothing seems to just appear out of thin air and be spectacular.
That park in the pictures is so full of promise and has such a bright and unknowing future in front of it. It's just waiting for the memories that so many people hold so dear today. Pirates of the Carribbean is barely a thought in Walt's mind and our time-cherished Tomorrowland as we know it is still (fittingly) far into the future. It must be bittersweet to have experienced Disneyland like this and to see both what you've lost and what you've gained. I don't know if I could see Disneyland the same way if I grew up in the 1950's, but I did grow up in and remember quite vividly the Disneyland golden era of 1986 to 1994 and I will forever be grateful of the memories Disneyland has given me.
It's still a young park, 53 is nothing when you consider this park will be around for a long, long time. The current iteration of Disney is incapable of recreating the genius of Walt's work, but there's still a long future ahead and who knows who will lead Disneyland through this century. Perhaps the point where we stand today has a bright and prosperous future ahead. In any case...Happy Birthday Disneyland!
I have the DVD and enjoyed both the stills here and the original commentary. One thing I noticed today is how Walt planned water to be in each land (except for Main Street). I think that this design element brings both interest in the scenery but also a refreshment to the feel of the place. When DCA was designed, only one "land' of the park was given water.
One has to wonder how Disneyland, being 53 years old today can still have the charm that delights both old and young as much as it did back then. One of those elements is water in the landscape design. May future Imagineers study how Walt designed his park to keep Disneyland as wonderful as it originally was designed.
Jiminy Cricket Fan
WOW. I have seen a lot of old pictures of the park but these are really good. It is amazing on how much the park has grown. I really like the huge moat around the castle. I wish that the moat was still that big today. Thank you for those pictures.
that's worth it just for the aerial shots of the old west areas and the indian village. There doesn't seem to be tons of aerial work about the old mine carts, stage coach, mules, etc. That view gives good perspective on where they went around
In the real wide shot on the fourth page, don't you just love how a car could pull right up to the curb at the turnstiles?!? There's another car behind it up on the curb, too--I wonder what's going on there?
Happy Birthday Disneyland! You don't look a day over 29!